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Adopt a Greyhound

by Kim Jack-Riley

The thrill of the opening gate gun on a greyhound racetrack is exhilarating for spectators and owners alike, but did you know the career span for the average racing dog is just two years? Since the typical life-span for this speedy breed is 12-14 years, what are these pups doing the rest of their lives?

Generally, once the dogs retire they’re euthanized, but rescue groups all over the country are working to make that a passé retirement plan. One example is the Greyhound Friends of New Jersey (GFNJ), which sponsors today’s annual Greyhound Adoption Day event held at the Bergen Community College in New Jersey.

“In our 22 years, Greyhound Friends of New Jersey has saved the lives of thousands of retired racing greyhounds,” GFNJ volunteer, Lynne Heller tells Paw Nation. “Just this week, we’ll take in 23 dogs from tracks where they faced being euthanized. Our volunteers are dedicated to educating the public about the breed and finding the right home for each greyhound we rescue.”

Greyhound Adoption Day events inform prospective adopters about greyhounds, correcting the false assumption that the dogs are hyperactive. According to Heller, “The opposite is actually true. While these dogs should have a good walk on a leash or romp in a fenced yard each day, they spend most of their time as couch potatoes!”

Adoptive pet owners couldn’t agree more. “I love greyhounds!” The Dog Expert Sheryl Matthys tells Paw Nation. “My first greyhound, Shiraz, has changed my life and she was the inspiration for me to start LeashesandLovers.com — a community to connect all dog lovers around the world.”

“Before retiring,” explains Matthys, “Shiraz raced for 2 1/2 years at the Plainfield, CT racetrack before it closed. Since I adopted her, she’s become a certified therapy dog and we’ve visited many hospitals and cancer centers.”

Across the country, popularity for adopting retired greyhounds has grown leaps and bounds, partly due to their loving nature, and partly because of increased education and awareness from Greyhound rescue organizations.

“I have five retired racing greyhounds,” says Alisha Navarro, who sits on the board of directors for Greyhound Friends of North Carolina. “I also own three companies that were born out of my love of greyhounds. Greyhounds are wonderful pets. They are ‘sprinting’ animals so they get their energy out in a short period of time and then they sleep the rest of the day.”

Navarro cautions that “since greyhounds don’t have much body fat, they can’t live outside in extreme temperatures. And because they are sight hounds, they can never be off leash in a non-fenced in area.”